Tickets for the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival are selling faster this year than at any time during the event’s 21-year history.

With ten weeks still to go, organisers have reached 80 per cent of their sales target and are fast running out of weekend tickets for the four-day festival. The opening show is sold out and closing show tickets are in hot demand.

Overall sales have already surpassed those for the 2014 and 2015 festivals, with 65 per cent of tickets being snapped up by fans living outside HebCelt’s base in the island of Lewis, confirming its reputation for attracting huge numbers of visitors.

The 21st HebCelt will be held from 13-16 July in Stornoway. Runrig will close the ‘coming of age’ celebrations on Saturday, 16 July during a nationwide tour in support of their 14th - and last - studio album, The Story, which was released in January.  

News that the band were making their fourth appearance at the festival led to an unprecedented demand for Early Bird tickets from fans across the UK and Europe and as far afield as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Runrig will be among nearly 50 acts performing over the four days. Others confirmed include the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Hayseed Dixie, Astrid, Julie Fowlis, King Creosote and Breabach.

Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: “We are extremely pleased with the ticket sales this year. This is easily our best performance ever, with big spikes firstly when we announced Runrig and put weekend tickets on sale back in November, and then when we released day tickets at the end of February.

“Since then sales have remained healthy and we are heading for a record year. We now have limited availability for weekend and Saturday tickets across all ranges and our opening show in An Lanntair has sold out.

“Runrig are obviously a huge draw, especially in our unique setting in the Gaelic heartland, but we have a large and varied programme with a host of great acts which will appeal to our international audience.”

HebCelt has grown from a small event attracting less than 1,000 fans, to an international showpiece for roots, Celtic and traditional music, drawing an audience of around 15,000. It is estimated it has generated more than £20 million for the local economy over two decades.

Last year, it marked its 20th anniversary by hosting its biggest number of live performances ever with more than 50 hours of music and arts events staged in the main arena in the grounds of Lews Castle, as well as An Lanntair arts centre in the town centre and other venues in rural areas.